Stephen Hawking the theoretical physicist who made revolutionary contributions to our understanding of the nature of the universe has died at his home in Cambridge, U.K, in the early hours of Wednesday.

“We are deeply saddened that our beloved father passed away today,” his children Lucy, Robert and Tim said in a statement. He was 76.

Diagnosed at age 21 with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS — also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease — Hawking proved every doctor wrong as he defied their grim prognoses decade after decade again.

His work ranged from the origins of the universe itself, through the tantalizing prospect of time travel to the mysteries of space’s all-consuming black holes.

He was the author of A Brief History of Time that rocketed him to stardom.

Published for the first time in 1988, the title made the Guinness Book of Records after it stayed on the Sunday Times bestsellers list for an unprecedented 237 weeks.

It sold 10m copies and was translated into 40 different languages.

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